Home Remedial Reading Materials for Struggling Students

Unless the materials for this group of students are well-suited to their ability, regression will occur. The following anecdote illustrates this well.  

A student who had been progressing well surprised me when she had two consecutive disappointing remedial reading sessions. When I discussed this matter with her parents, I learned that she wasn’t using the book I provided for home use but was using a library book that she had chosen. Unfortunately, as it was beyond her ability, it tore away at her confidence. This in turn led to a significant decline in her reading performance. However, once things were straightened out, she was quickly back on track.

Parents, should you need assistance finding suitable materials, seek advice from your child’s teacher.


For homework to be truly worthwhile for special needs students, it is most important that the assigned work addresses their individual needs. If this does not occur, then frustration as well as some degree of self-deprecation will.

Learning Differences

I must say that I take exception to the commonly heard statement that dyslexic individuals learn differently. I see this statement as being misleading as it tends to falsely indicate that we (yes, I am dyslexic, too) possess hidden mechanisms in our brains that compensate for the neurological damage that accompanies this condition.

The difference we dyslexics experience is that we need to work harder than our non-affected peers. However, it must be noted that this condition does not affect our intellectual ability. In fact, we are very capable of attaining the same academic success as our non-dyslexic peers do. Incidentally, this includes the attainment of under-grad as well as post-grad university degrees.

To learn more about dyslexia, refer to www.abcofreading.com.

Promotion: Should a student be promoted or held back.

Except for very rare situations, I am against the non-promotion of students because such an approach is apt to be unsuccessful. The reason for this is that these students often lack strong foundational skills in the subject(s) they are struggling with. Therefore, being exposed to the same curriculum and basically the same teaching approach tends to do little to develop inadequate skills. For instance, if a Grade 3 student is only reading at the Grade 1 level, repeating the Grade 3 curriculum is unlikely to help him/her obtain the foundational skills that he/she requires.

There are two additional reasons I don’t support holding back. One is that such an action is likely to detrimentally affect a student’s self-confidence. Once this happens, one’s ability to learn is further reduced because in order to learn one must experience success – an outcome which in turn builds confidence. And, it is this powerful combination of progress and faith in one’s ability that fosters further growth. The other reason is that not only does a drop in confidence affect one’s academic ability but it can also affect one’s social and emotional development.

In conclusion, I recommend that struggling students be advanced to the next year and that they be provided with one-on-one or small group instruction so that their needs could be directly addressed. This might appear as an expensive plan but it is actually more cost effective to remediate problems sooner than later.

I am a Special Education Teacher (retired) who is also dyslexic. Being dyslexic is significant because it was through my own struggles that I was able to acquire the insight that opened the door to a wealth of information on this neurological condition. For further details on reading difficulties and how to remediate them, visit www.abcofreading.com .

Darwin Remedial Reading Program – Testimonials

To stimulate confidence in my work, I’m presenting testimonials that substantiate the Program’s results as well as information on my professional background. Before I go any further, I want to mention that not only was I special education teacher (retired) but more significantly, I am dyslexic myself. In other words, it was the insight that I acquired from my own struggles that has allowed me to develop this excitingly effective program.


 – Though a severely dyslexic 12 year old student had been exposed to a variety of remedial approaches over the years, she could not read words such as log, bit and hut when we first met. However, within 15 minutes of her first session she was reading words of this nature independently.

Her resource teacher had sat in on the session and was so impressed that she bought the Program then and there and was using it within a couple of days. This teacher had the opportunity to use the Program for two years before she retired and she later mentioned that during that time not once did she encounter a child who did not benefit from it.

– Though a completely illiterate 49 year old was exposed to a variety of reading approaches over an eleven month period, he still could not read. However, the first time my Program was presented, he read his first words ever. Six months later he was the recipient of a national award – the Peter Gzowski Learner Achievement Award.

The following is an excerpt from a letter the student’s tutor sent me.

“The first tutoring session with your materials was an eye opener for me. Somehow my student suddenly seemed to get it. Digging out the vowel and sounding it enabled him to put together a three-letter word for the first time. The look on his face made the eleven months of Thursday evenings worth it – for him and for me. Thank you so much.

– A few years back I saw a 9 year old from California. She had been tutored with one of the highly popular program and though she was seen for three two hour sessions per week for the better part of the previous school year, her progress was limited. For instance, her reading level was only at the end of Grade One when we first met. I worked with her for just two one hour sessions and during this time her reading level, according to the assessment her Californian tutor carried out, had jumped from the end of Grade 1 to the beginning of Grade 3.

The following is an excerpt from a note her dad sent me. It confirms his daughter’s progress.

“I have watched my daughter go through various reading programs and never have a great deal of success. However, in the two brief sessions she had with Ms. Trower, I saw remarkable progress in her reading abilities – our daughter could read a passage that until then had been indecipherable to her.”

Information on my Professional Background

 The Eastern Townships School Board psychologist enthusiastically supports the Program as she is finding it is reaching students who have been resistant to the various remedial approaches – including the highly popular ones that they had previously been exposed to.

In 2015, I introduced my work to a professor in the Faculty of Education at McGill University, and in return I received an invitation to present at their Distinguished Educator Seminar Series. However, due to financial cutbacks, 11 out of the 19 seminars were cancelled and this included mine.

I recently presented a workshop at Quebec’s Annual Teachers’ Convention. Things went very well. For instance, once the chairs were taken, folks sat themselves on the floor. This level of attendance is telling because as the audience didn’t know me, it wasn’t my reputation that had attracted them but it was their ongoing search for an effective remedial program that did. Furthermore, the workshop’s content was well appreciated. This was expressed through the audience’s evaluations as they primarily consisted of 5/5 while the remaining ones were scored at 4/5.

The following is an extract from a letter I received from the Dean’s of Students, Bishop’s University. It alludes to the fact that in 1992 I persuaded Bishop’s University’s Senate to officially recognized students with learning disabilities and as a result it has since been standard practice for these students to receive special accommodations.

 This letter will acknowledge that Mrs. M. Trower has been a consultant to Bishop’s University on learning disabled students for a period of two years. This work involved advising members of the Counselling Service, the Dean of Students and the Committee of Associate Deans on proper policies and procedures for dealing with learning disabilities. Mrs. Trower has also provided on-going counselling to a number of individual Bishop’s students.

 I must tell you that Mrs. Trower’s work has been outstanding. She has provided the University with a wealth of information. She has been very effective in sensitizing the University community to this neglected area and her professionalism is noteworthy.

 Please feel free to contact this office if you require any further information.

 The following is an excerpt from a letter received from a member of the Learning Associates of Montreal – an organization which is highly respected. For instance, one of its former associates was a consultant on the Canadian production of Sesame Street.

 Minna is a gifted individual who has an excellent understanding of learning disabilities from both the teacher’s viewpoint, and as she herself experienced learning difficulties, she sees it from the learner’s perspective as well.

Minna has already made valuable contributions to the field of learning disabilities and I expect her to continue to do so. I have no hesitation in recommending her.

For more information on the Program, visit www.abcofreading.com .


Introduction to the Darwin Remedial Reading Program – Part 1/2

The aim here is to provide teachers, tutors and parents with the guidance and support that will allow them to implement the Program with ease and efficiency.

To stimulate confidence in this work, testimonials are being presented. The first one is upcoming while the others can be viewed by going to the home page of www.abcofreading.com, and then referring to Examples of Effectiveness and Letters of Acknowledgement.


When I first met a severely dyslexic 12 year old, she could not read words such as log, hut and tap. However, within 15 minutes of her first session she was applying the Program’s unique decoding techniques and was independently reading words of this nature.

Her resource teacher had sat in on the session and was so impressed that she bought the Program then and there. She was using it within a couple of days and continued to do so until she retired. She later mentioned that within the two years she had used the Program she didn’t encounter a single child who didn’t benefit from it.

Info for Parents: You should only tutor your child if it does not result in stress and frustration. The reasoning here is that these factors not only inhibit learning but they can also have a negative impact on the parent/child relationship. For alternatives to parental tutoring, see page 3 in the Program’s Guide/Workbook.

To avoid excessive pronoun clutter (e.g. he/she), the masculine pronoun is used when a student is being referred to as this reflects the prevalence of males to females with learning difficulties.

Choosing a Tutor

If parental tutoring results in frustration and stress on a fairly regular basis, it should be avoided as such factors not only inhibit learning but more significantly they can also have a negative impact on the parent/child relationship. Therefore, unless things are going well, hire a tutor or use the services of a reputable learning center. Another alternative would be for parents of children with learning problems to link up and tutor each other’s children.

Attributes to Look for in a Tutor

Give priority to personality traits (e.g. a warm and caring nature, respect for others and patience) rather than an academic background as one can always acquire the science of teaching by referring to an effective program, but the art of teaching is inherent.

Determining a Tutor’s Effectiveness

Weekly or bi-weekly meetings (phone calls work well) for the first month or two in conjunction with the child’s reaction will facilitate this determination.


Minna Trower
Bachelor of Education, McGill University
Diploma in Special Education, McGill University
Diploma in Physical Education, McGill University